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Imbolc 2010

Pickled Jester Photography (photo)

Seasonal Cakes
(as in "Cakes and Ale")

We celebrate five major holidays a year with fire and feast and friends. One common item at those times is a nutritious and good-tasting stick-to-your-ribs kind of cookie.

It is not as sweet as the usual American cookie, and it is perfect for dunking in tea, coffee, or...well, ale! We have our feast and then go outside to the fire pit for ritual. After that, as we drink home-brewed mead or our favorite ale, we like something substantial to nibble upon as the hour grows late and we sit watching the ember-glow in the depths of the fire pit. These cakes—cookies to Americans—are just the ticket. I vary them a bit by season and celebration.

from the kitchen of Labrys

Suggested Watching

The Wicker Man (1975, rated R) [Editor's note: Before Nicholas Cage ruined it.]


Bottle Short of a Six Pack
Click here for definitions of difficulty levels.


Full page recipe (pdf format)
3x5 card recipe (pdf format)


U.S. Metric Ingredient
1 c 230 g butter
2 eggs

1 c, packed

220 g brown sugar
1/2 tsp 3 g salt
2 tsp 9 g baking soda
1 Tbsp 7g dried blood orange (Moro orange) peel, ground
1 tsp 5 ml vanilla extract
2 c 240 g spelt flour (or your favorite non-gluten mixture)
4 c 480 g rye or triticale flakes, or rolled oats
(NOTE: if using oats, metric measurement is 650 g as they are more dense.)
1 c 120 g finely chopped nuts of choice
3/4 c 75 g seasonal add-in, finly chopped or minced
(see Chef's notes, below)

You Will Also Need

  • electric hand or stand mixer

Chef's Notes

Seasonal Add-ins

Imbolc: crystallized ginger
Spring Equinox (Ostara): edible flowers (nasturtiums, violets, lavender, hibiscus, etc., and take care that you get food grade)
Beltane: golden raisins
Summer Solstice (Litha): dried blueberries
Lughnasadh: dried blackberries
Fall Equinox (Mabon): dried apples
Samhain: dried cranberries
Winter Solstice (Yule): currants

My inspiration for these, years ago, was the Scottish Oatcakes I was served once—utterly thin and dry, a wonderful texture with little flavor. Alas! American oatmeal cookies were a bit too sweet and often fell apart when dunked in mead or even in coffee. So, this combination was created and turned out to be perfect for steadying fireside dancers. They also make good back-pack cookies, delivering energy and flavor and filling up hungry youngsters without sending blood sugar soaring. They can be spiced or chocolate-chipped with ease. On nut and fruit parings, I've found that macadamia nuts are outstanding with the golden raisins and pecans go best with the cranberries! And for ordinary times of the year, I have occasionally added shredded unsweetened coconut for one cupís worth of the rye flakes.

The AntiCraft assumes any well stocked kitchen to have certain things on hand. (Click for our basic kitchen items list)

Makes about three dozen 3" cookies.


Beat butter and sugar together and add eggs one at a time. Stir in salt and vanilla and orange peel. Mix baking soda into the first cup of flour and beat into butter mixture. Add the second cup of flour and start adding the flaked/rolled grain of your choice. Add dried fruit of the season and the nuts you like best.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/176°C and grease the baking sheet. Roll the dough into balls almost ping-pong ball sized and place at least 2.5 inches apart. Now, find something to press cookies flat—my tool of choice is a small crystal sugar-bowl that was a wedding gift 33 years ago, given by my Commanding Officer. It has a pretty cut star on its base and I use it to flatten the cookies into thick rounds almost 3"/7.5cm across and about .25"/.6cm thick.

Bake for 12 or 13 minutes and cool completely before storing them airtight in a tin.


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